According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, more than 40% of law enforcement officers are obese.
Other studies have found that police officers are 25% more likely to die from weight-related disorders like cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and even some cancers.
Too many police officers are overweight, but chances are they didn’t start out that way. After graduating from the strenuous physical challenges of the police academy, most police officers are in the best shape of their lives.
While most police departments have weight recommendations for incoming recruits, they often don’t monitor weight among current officers, and long hours in a patrol car or at a desk, poor eating and sleeping habits, and high levels of stress all make the numbers on the scale creep up over the years.
In an article in the New York Post last year, police officer sources said the NYPD is the “fattest department in the country…because we have no requirement to stay in shape.”
Police officers in the department were worried that out-of-shape colleagues would be unable to provide effective backup or apprehend a fleeing suspect, and one ex-NYPD officer filed a lawsuit claiming disability pay because his weight ballooned from 180 to 395 during his 17 years on the job.
Unfortunately, being overweight can have serious health and career drawbacks for police officers, including:
- Increased fatigue in physical situations
- More time off for health reasons
- Increased risk of sustaining injuries
- Higher risk of developing serious health problems including heart disease, stroke, gallbladder and kidney disease, and some cancers
- Higher incidence of health issues like gout, breathing problems, and sleep apnea
- Increased risk of depression and mood disorders
To combat these issues, some police departments do provide programs and incentives to keep police officers in shape, including Chicago; Detroit; McMinnville, Tennessee; and Miramar, Florida. Several police departments, including those in Joliet, Illinois; Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania; and Columbus, Ohio; have even held Biggest Loser competitions.
Want to start a weight loss and fitness program for your police department? Contact Certify Fit for more information.